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UN nuclear energy agency helps countries safeguard shared water sources

UN nuclear energy agency helps countries safeguard shared water sources

The United Nations nuclear energy agency is working closely with several other UN agencies, especially the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), to help countries assess and manage limited water resources, especially when shared between countries.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been supporting UNEP’s Global Environmental Monitoring System/Water (GEMS/Water) programme on water quality assessment, including laboratory comparison testing to ensure accurate and precise measurement of water quality and expanding laboratory networks in developing Member States.

The Agency noted that an aquifer in the north-western Sahara is an important freshwater source for the people of Tunisia, Algeria and Libya now and in the foreseeable future. With increasing scarcity of clean surface waters, IAEA and UNEP, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Sahara and Sahelian Observatory (OSS) countries is helping the three countries to use isotopic and nuclear techniques to protect the shared water source.

“It gives the countries scientifically sound information on which they can base management decisions about the aquifer,” the IAEA said.

A lack of drinking water or adequate sanitation kills 1.7 million people a year, 90 per cent of them children, IAEA said. It added that it is helping countries gain know-how and key data to better manage and protect their valuable water supplies.